By Gregory Rogers
Published by Roaring Book Press
Copyright © 2012
“The Hero of Little Street” is a colorful romp through art and time with a boy and a dog.
A young boy is playing in Trafalgar Square in front of the National Museum of London when, after an incident with a soccer ball and the three older boys who it belongs to, he quickly runs into said museum to hide. While there he spies many works of art. Little does he know he will soon become part of the works of art; at least for a little while anyway.
“The Hero of Little Street” takes us on a brief trip through the National Museum of London with the feature being the world and art of painter Jan Vermeer. The concept of travelling through art is interesting, but the delivery is uninspiring. As a wordless book the illustrations need to tell the story and keep the interest of the reader. The comic strip style does a good job of telling the story, but the art itself, while nice, is a little too subdued to keep my interest over multiple readings.
So you or your child will probably enjoy reading this book once, but requests for an encore are unlikely.
By Ashley Spires
Published by Kids Can Press
Copyright © 2012
I have always had an affinity for the Sasquatch legend. I will freely admit that there is a little part of me that believes that Sasquatch is out there. But even if they aren’t, to believe in them is to retain that sense of unexplainable wonderment in the natural world. So when I saw “Larf,” by Ashley Spires, in our latest children’s book order I knew I had to read it.
Larf, as you may have guessed, is a sasquatch. He likes the fact that no one knows he exists, and even when they see him they don’t really believe he exists. Larf is the only sasquatch in the world and he loves his privacy.
While reading the newspaper one day he reads an article that says that “a sasquatch is scheduled to make an appearance today in the nearby city of Hunderfitz.” Larf wonders how this could be, and then he wonders how this could affect him. Larf has no choice; he must go to Hunderfitz to see this sasquatch. Larf is in for a surprise.
The story of Larf is cute. As much as I hate the word “cute” there is no other word that fits. There is not deep layer of morality to this tale it is just cute. Sure you could look at it as a tale about getting out of your own head and letting others in so that we can make friends, but that is merely an aside to the cuteness.
Fortunately, “cute” is not the only thing that “Larf” has going for it. This story is very humorous. Most of this humor shows up in the illustrations. Spires’ line art is reminiscent of the work of Craig Bartlett on the Nickelodeon cartoon “Hey, Arnold” (which I loved), but she lightens it up and makes it more whimsical and fluffy with her use of what seems to be water color. The funny comes not just in her way of drawing people and Larf, but in the way she juxtaposes the text of the story with the illustrations. For instance when we read “Larf knows no one would ever leave him alone if they found out he was real.” And then we see an illustration with his face on the cover of magazines, newspapers, and tabloids with the addition of a book featuring his pet bunny Eric on the cover with the title “Bigfoot’s Bunny: Shocking Tell-All Memoir.” It made me laugh.
This book will definitely get five stars on my book sharing accounts. It will be a welcome addition to the story time rotation for children’s groups or individual children ages 3 and up.
By Chris Van Allsburg
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
Copyright © 1986
It is nearly fall and a cold breeze is beginning to blow. Farmer Bailey feels that breeze as he is driving down the road in his old truck, and just then he hits something. At first he thinks he hit a deer, but when he gets out and looking he finds a strangely dressed man lying on the road. Farmer Bailey takes him home to recuperate with his family, but unfortunately the man has amnesia and can’t remember who he is. The stranger is pleasant and helps out around the farm, and the Bailey’s are happy to have him. Then one day as he is working in the field and looks out to the valley to the north and compares it with the Bailey’s farm he soon realizes who he is and that he must go.
Van Allsburg has written and illustrated a beautifully simple story that rides the line between reality and fantasy. He gives a charming appearance and personality to the bearer of the coming winter – you know his name. Van Allsburg accomplishes this without being overtly fantastical or magical. This is a great story to read with K-3 children with the change of season and the coming of fall. Adults who love the bucolic splendor of the northeast in the fall of the year will certainly enjoy this tale as well.